The Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset promises to go beyond most Lightning headphones by offering not only noise cancellation, but binaural recording.
If you’re not peculiar, the Ambeo is about as simple as any other headset – you can simply plug them into the Lightning port of an iPhone or iPad. an iPad and be ready to go. We suggest, however, to download the company’s iOS application because the headphone’s equalization settings are set to be perfectly flat by default, and most people will want more bass.
In our initial tests, the audio seems to be extremely sharp and clear, but where it really starts to impose, it is noise cancellation. Active noise cancellation is what you will probably use most of the time – this reduces (but does not eliminate) any persistent background noise, such as traffic, wind or jet engines.
Sennheiser also offers something called “Transparent Hearing”, which will mix the headphone output with the ambient sound. If need be, you can choose to reduce or amplify the iOS output, but only at predefined levels.
Perhaps the clearest feature of Ambeo is its binaural recording, although its practical aspect is limited. By way of quick introduction, the binaural recording captures audio in 3D – which means that when you listen to a media in this format, you hear it as if you were there, in assuming you have a good helmet.
The Amber uses two microphones on the outside of each earpiece, and when it is played on the same headphones, even a simple recording on the street was extremely immersive.
You will notice that if you try to play the same file on a pair of desktop speakers, the results are quite disappointing – it seems extremely quiet with a discernable separation. It’s still a little quiet with headphones, but definitely clearer and exactly as if you were really there, with sounds at the right volume, in the right place and at a good distance.